The marquee feature on this year’s new iPhones, tentatively called the “iPhone 11,” could be a third rear camera.
The iPhone rumor comes from Japanese Apple fan blog Mac Otakara, which has in the past accurately leaked details on Apple products months before they’re announced.
According to Mac Otakara’s sources, this year’s iPhones might come with a triple camera system on the back embedded in a new square-shaped bump in the upper corner.
The camera system is said to be similar to the one on Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro, which consists of a regular wide lens, telephoto lens, an ultra wide-angle lens, and an LED flash.
Adding a third camera would level the playing field for the new iPhones, which will have to compete with Android phones such as Samsung’s Galaxy S10 and S10+ and Huawei’s upcoming P30 Pro, which both feature three cameras.
Interestingly enough, the report doesn’t say what kind of camera the third camera would be. Would it be an ultra wide-angle camera like on the S10/S10+ and Mate 20 Pro? Or would it be a third “depth camera” (also called a “ToF” camera — short for Time of Flight) to assist with portrait mode photos and augmented reality applications.
Apple’s current top-tier iPhones, the XS and XS Max, have two rear cameras (regular wide-angle and 2x telephoto).
Not all iPhone 11’s might get the triple camera setup, though. Mac Otakara’s report says Apple could limit the triple camera setup to versions of both the new 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch iPhones with higher storage capacities. A previous Wall Street Journal report claimed Apple might only add a third camera to the successor to the larger iPhone XS Max.
In other words, the entry-level 5.8-inch iPhone 11 with, say, 64GB of storage might come with dual cameras, but perhaps a 512GB or 1TB version will have three cameras.
All of this is pure speculation, of course. Mac Otakara says cases of iPhone 11’s with the square camera bump are already in the wild. The report also corroborates a previous report from serial phone leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer (@OnLeaks), who shared information on this year’s iPhones back in January:
The only difference between Mac Otakara and @OnLeaks’ leaks is the arrangement of the cameras inside of the square hump. Knowing Apple, it’ll probably go with a symmetrical design similar to the camera setup on the Mate 20 Pro.
The pressure is on for Apple to differentiate this year’s iPhones with compelling features that will convince consumers to upgrade. With iPhone sales flat, Apple will need to dazzle with features that compete aggressively with the feature-packed Galaxy S10 and value-packed devices like the OnePlus 6T.
Personally, I want to see Apple advance its computational photography. I’d much rather a camera mode that compares to Google’s impressive Night Sight for the Pixel, which is practically magic.
Besides the triple rear cameras, this year’s iPhones could also come with bilateral wireless charging (also called reverse wireless charging). It would be similar to the Wireless PowerShare feature on the Galaxy S10, which can be used to wirelessly charge another phone or accessories like Galaxy Buds.
A faster A13 chip is also expected to power this year’s iPhones. The new phones will likely ship with iOS 13, which will probably be introduced at WWDC in early June. We don’t know much about iOS 13, except maybe it’ll come with a system-wide dark mode mirroring the same feature introduced last year for macOS Mojave.
More leaks will no doubt trickle out from now until the fall, but it might be worth asking yourself: Would you buy an iPhone with a third, possibly ultra wide-angle camera? And more importantly, would you pony up the extra cash if Apple limited the extra camera to the pricier models with more storage? It’s going to be super interesting to see what Apple does this year.